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Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics

2 Overview of Chapter 2  Brief US Environmental History  US Environmental Legislation  Economics and the Environment  Environmental Ethics, Values and Worldviews

3 Environmental History of the US  17 th and 18 th Centuries- Frontier Attitude  Natural Resources (land, timber soil, water) seemed inexhaustible  Widespread Environmental Destruction Dominated by Frontier Attitude Establishment of Jamestown, VA

4 Environmental History of the US John James Audobon ( ) Henry David Thoreau ( ) George Perkins Marsh ( )  19th century - US Naturalists voiced concerns about natural resources  Audobon - painted nature, which increased interest in environment  Thoreau - naturalist author on simplifying life  Marsh - wrote Man and Nature

5 Environmental History of US  General Revision Act  Gave President authority to establish forest reserves  Presidents Harrison, Cleveland, Roosevelt  Put 17.4 million hectares into reserve  President Roosevelt  Reserved additional 6.5 million hectares before signing bill preventing further forest reservation 1875 American Forestry Assoc. Formed General Revision Act 1890 Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks Established

6 Environmental History of US  Utilitarian Conservationist  Value natural resources for their usefulness  Roosevelt  Biocentric Preservationist  Protect nature because all life deserves respect  John Muir (founded Sierra Club)  Fought for National Parks

7 Environmental History of US  Antiquities Act  Allows president to set aside sites of scientific or historical importance (monuments)  American Dust Bowl (1930s droughts)  Basis for Soil Conservation Service  Created by Franklin Roosevelt 1906 Antiquities Act 1935 Creation of Soil Conservation Service 1916 National Park Service Created

8 Environmental History of US  20 th Century Naturalists  Leopold - Author (A Sand Country Almanac)  Stegner - Author (Wilderness Essay)  Carson - Author (Silent Spring)  Heightened awareness of DDT and pesticides Aldo Leopold ( ) Wallace Stegner ( ) Rachel Carson ( )


10 US Environmental Legislation  Environmental Protection Agency  Est  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)  Cornerstone of Environmental Law  Requires Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for any proposed federal action  Ex: highway or dam construction  Revolutionized environmental protection in US

11 Environmental Impact Statement

12 US Environmental Legislation  Numerous laws passed since 1970  They address:  Clean water  Clean air  Energy conservation  Hazardous waste  Pesticides  Federal regulation of pollution





17 Effects of Environmental Legislation  Since 1970  Six air pollutants have dropped by 25%  Since 1990  wet sulfate levels decreased 20–35%  As of 2007  90% of US had healthy drinking water (up from 75% in 1993)  As of 2006  45% of municipal waste is burned as waste-to-energy or recovered for recycling  As of 2007  Human exposure to hazardous waste sites identified in 1969 is below 93%

18 Economics and the Environment  Economics - study of how people use limited resources to satisfy unlimited wants  Analytical tools include models

19 Precepts to study Economics  Economics is utilitarian  Goods and services have value that can be converted to currency  Rational Actor Model  Assumes all individuals spend limited resources to maximize individual utilities  Ideal economy  Resources are allocated efficiently

20 Optimum Amount of Pollution  Optimum Amount of Pollution  Cost to society of having less pollution is offset by benefits to society of activity creating pollution  Must identify  Marginal Cost of Pollution - Cost of small additional amount of pollution  Marginal Cost of Abatement - Cost of reducing small amount of pollution

21 Economic Optimum Amount of Pollution

22 Private vs Social Cost of Pollution

23 Strategies for Pollution Control  Command and Control Solutions  Government agency requires limitations to emissions or pollutants  Discourages development of low-cost alternatives  Environmental Taxes/Tradable Permits  If taxes are set at correct level private marginal cost of pollution = social cost of pollution

24 Effect of Tax on Optimum Pollution

25 Critiques of Environmental Economics  Ecosystem services have no known value  Utilitarian economics may not be appropriate  Dynamic changes and time are not considered  Difficult to assess true costs of environmental pollution and abatement  Impacts of pollution on people and nature is uncertain

26 National Income Accounts  Estimates of National Economic Performance and used in Politics  Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  Net Domestic Product (NDP)  Environment may be overexploited to yield a higher GDP in developing countries  EPI (Environmental Performance Index)  Assesses a country’s commitment to environmental and resource management


28 Environmental Justice  The right of every citizen regardless of age, race and gender, social class or other factor, to adequate protection from environmental hazards  Generally, members of low income and minority communities:  Face more environmental threats and have fewer environmental amenities  Have less voice in planning

29 Environmental Justice  Challenge of environmental justice  To find equitable solutions that respect all groups of people  Local issue  National issue  International issue

30 Environmental Ethics  Field of ethics that considers the moral basis of environmental responsibility  Western Worldview  Human superiority and dominance over nature  Deep Ecology Worldview  All species have an equal worth to humans  Most people’s ethics fall somewhere in between

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